Although Cyber Monday shoppers were less satisfied with their online experience in 2008 than they were in 2007, satisfaction was greater in November than it was in October, according to a study by ForeSee Results.
The study, which uses the methodology of the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), examined responses from more than 250,000 consumers who shopped online between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Online customer satisfaction was actually higher on Cyber Monday than it was at any point in November, including over the holiday weekend. Usually the opposite is true, with satisfaction levels falling on Cyber Monday as online shoppers fail to find the deep discounts and free shipping offers they expect.
In 2008, Cyber Monday customer satisfaction was down almost 1% from 2007 (a score of 75.9 in 2008 compared to 76.6 in 2007, on the study's 100-point scale). In fact, satisfaction scores for Cyber Monday were down from 2007 across the board, on every web site element and future behaviour that the company measures, from satisfaction with navigation and price to likelihood to purchase online or offline.
In previous years, dips in customer satisfaction on Cyber Monday have been attributed to strain on e-commerce systems due to higher shopper volumes and the unfamiliarity of new shoppers drawn to web sites for the first time by a discount or a sale. The rise this year may indicate that e-retail web sites are starting to overcome these challenges successfully.
"It seems that, for the first time, retailers have met customer expectations for sales and promotions with all of the well-publicised deals that were available on Cyber Monday," noted Larry Freed, president and CEO for ForeSee Results. "But whether or not they can continue to use these techniques to satisfy customers while still remaining profitable remains to be seen."
However, Freed concluded, "The real surprise is that satisfaction was as high as it was. It's less than a point lower than last year and, given all the gloom and doom reported in the media every day, we expected to see a bigger drop. This should give retailers and investors confidence that, while year-over-year increases won't come close to 2007's successes, it may not be quite as bad as analysts are predicting."
In a slower economy, successful e-retailers have more to gain. ForeSee Results' analysis shows that, on e-retail web sites with superior satisfaction scores (i.e. over 80), customers are significantly more likely to purchase online or offline than are visitors to web sites with satisfaction scores below 70.